Showcase – Will Cuming

Will Cuming is an Australian musician and composer who writes and performs most regularly with electro-pop band ‘Poco la Pax’.

He studied Improvisation at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne with guitar as his primary instrument. As well as being a guitarist and songwriter for ‘Poco la Pax’ he also designs synth sounds, programmes light shows and does remixes under this name. Will played guitar on the the film ‘Red Hill’ (2010) and is also a multi-instrumentalist who plays piano, flute, ukulele, and sample pads.

1) Tell us a bit about your music (genre, inspiration source, goals)

I come from a background of playing Jazz guitar and classical flute and listening to rock bands. Then i got to university and got experimental with my laptop making dance music. Now i have a broad range of instruments that i like to write with at different times when i find one more inspiring than the others. For my band ‘Poco la Pax’ we are really inspired by the idea of combining electronic and acoustic instruments. You end up with a seriously large amount of sounds at your disposal including synths, samples, guitars, vocals, drum kit, trombones and trumpets. We are currently finishing the writing stage of our debut EP which should be out later this year.

2) How do you use Massive in your productions?

When writing I like to get massive into my sketch pretty quickly because the sounds I design often form a very integral part of the sound of the overall song. I find it easier to add the acoustic instruments to the electronics rather than to try and come up with synth sounds to suit the acoustic ones, not sure why that is. And Massive is great because it is just such a versatile instrument with very little limitations.

3) Can you tell us about the creation of a specific sound in one of your tracks?

One sound I particularly liked was the one from my ‘Stupid’ remix by Hey Sam that is in at around 1’43″. It’s just pedalling on one note there in the background and it’s heavily side chained. I used only one oscillator, Scrap Yard. There is an LFO on the Wavetable on full and going down first with the know set at around 2 o’clock. Then it goes through a ‘Daft’ filter with cutoff at about 2 o’clock also and resonance at around 11 o’clock. There is an LFO on the cutoff going fast at a fairly large range to give it that interesting movement a bit like a tremelo or vibrato. Then the resonance also has an LFO on it going at pretty much full rate. The amp of this LFO is controlled by a performer, which is also applied the the rate of this LFO (but inverted) and slows down the rate as the amp increases. Then theres a Classic Tube on FX1 which is at 10 o’clock for dry/wet and 4′oclock for drive. Then apply your side chain and that’s the main elements of the sound.

4) Tell us a technique in Massive you use not many know about?

One technique that i do really enjoy that maybe doesn’t get used a lot is putting an LFO or other modulator on the amp parameter with an envelope underneath it. This can get some really interesting results. I think with my sound design I try to use the parameters that people already know and aren’t all that complicated and find new ways of using them. I love simple sounds basically.

5) How has helped you on your production journey?

I have found to be a very helpful and inspiring resource for synthesis and sound design. I really enjoy simple and strong sounds and find that to make that work i can’t overdo my sounds on massive. The down side to that is that you sometimes start thinking a bit too narrowly and that’s when I like to watch a tutorial or explore other peoples patches to remind myself that there are so many parameters you can fiddle with or change to freshen up your sounds and inspire yourself.